The grandeur of the Redwoods cannot be overstated.
Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, in the northern California county of Del Norte, contains 10,000 acres of grandeur in spectacular old growth trees.
Threading through the Park is Howland Hills Road. Essentially one car width (with many pullouts), this maintained graveled, but dusty, road seems to be in the middle of heaven. The lane, full of blind corners, snakes around trees, logs and ferns. Visitors immediately feel nature’s mystical power. Stop to explore tree rings, look up to get a sense of the height, concentrate on the colors in the filtered light and listen to the silence. The intensity is overpowering.
Throughout the Park runs the Smith River, California’s last major free flowing river. This pristine body of water is ever changing – from a wide and slow pool to rock strewn falls. It is exceptionally dramatic and indescribably gorgeous.
Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, named for an intrepid explorer, is a serene place. With the Park’s penchant for protection, enormous regions of uninterrupted old growth are unavailable to visitors. In 10,000 acres of park, only twenty miles of hiking trails exist. The Boy Scout Tree Trail, at just over 5 miles, is the only park trail that leads deep into the forest. Other trails follow streams, crisscross roads or are short loops.
The redwood groves within this park are, perhaps, the most beautiful known to man. And they, too, are protected. The massive Grove of Titans and the Del Norte Titan are deep within the park, secure and silent. Their location is secret, to keep them safe from vandals or damage.
Stout Grove, along the Howland Hill Road, is the exception. This graceful grove, with its enormous straight trees, is particularly beautiful in the afternoon light. Then, the backlit foliage creates a cathedral-like atmosphere. The feeling of a greater power infuses this place.
Some redwoods in the park are over 2,000 years old, with a 20’ base diameter. Their height can be greater than 350 feet. A redwood’s root system is shallow (usually not more than six feet deep) but can extend laterally hundreds of feet, making them stable in high winds. Redwoods are resistant to fire, rot and insects; new growth is swift and vigorous when damage has been done.
The facts are impressive, but to be impressed, one needs to be among the redwoods. These trees are majestic, spiritual and a national treasure.
The redwoods are some of the oldest living things on earth. They deserve their protection and the words of awe they inspire. Do yourself a favor and walk among them.
This incredible Park is open to year-round. There is no entrance or parking fee. A campground is located off Highway 199 but no camping is available off the Howland Hills Road.
Howland Hills Road is obtained either from Crescent City, CA or off Highway 199, approximately ten miles south of Gasquet, CA.